To App or App Not?

Stephen Yagielowicz

Today’s digital media audience often has multiple devices at its disposal, with myriad viewing platforms ranging from phones to TVs, to computers, tablets and other devices — an increasing number of which are mobile friendly and ready for life on the road.

Each of these platforms requires a separate approach, with mobile devices being the most finicky to create a good web experience for, but also offering the most feature rich experience if an on-device application can be loaded.

The mobile audience presents an opportunity that adult entertainment merchants should not ignore.

The nuances of the process are nothing short of arcane wizardry for many operators, with current fashion favoring tablet friendly responsive website designs that may also serve smartphone users “well enough,” but the allure of apps, their internal monetization channels and their capability to drive consumer engagement and loyalty are compelling.

As for the profit motive driving entrepreneurs, Juniper Research reports that mobile porn subscription sales are rapidly rising and expected to generate more than $1 billion in revenues by 2015, due to continued expansion in the global smartphone and tablet market accompanied by faster mobile data connections.

According to Juniper Research, adult video chat services will increase in popularity threefold during the same period, accounting for more than half of all mobile porn profits, providing impetus for cam promoters to think mobile.

While North America and Western Europe are expected to drive more than 70 percent of revenues from mobile adult offers, analysts warn that the mobile marketing prospects for the adult entertainment industry remain hampered by a lack of payment platforms, restricted by legacy and low-end devices and stymied by various legal and social barriers.

For those willing to jump these hurdles on the road to riches, one question becomes “Do I need to develop a mobile app or not?”

“The more I read about it, the more I get convinced that the mobile app vs. web app debate will never end,” Fred Cavazza wrote for Forbes. “What bothers me most is that this debate distracts us from the real issue: knowledge.”

Cavazza says that given the evolving mobile and tablet landscape, the priority is not to deliver; it is to understand the impact of this continuing market shift.

“Competitive advantage will not be gained by providing your customers a sharp mobile app, but by making sure every decision maker in your organization understands the needs and habits of mobile users, and to internalize the competences to extend the reach of your websites and online services outside desktop browser windows,” Cavazza explains. “[This] is not a technology issue, it is a business issue: does your organization have the capacity to train/hire internal talent to face the mobile challenge?”

Cavazza advises companies to name a Chief Mobile Officer to oversee their efforts, regardless of the deployment strategies selected; and warns against subcontracting the development of mobile properties for your brand and building applications on proprietary tools that only reach a portion of the intended audience.

So what is the solution?

According to Cavazza, if you want to have a broad presence on mobile and alternate devices today, you could need 10 or so websites to do the trick — including four mobile website versions to cover feature phones, smartphones, tablets and connected TVs; plus four to five mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry version 7 and 10; along with a hybrid app based on a popular mobile framework.

And to think designers used to lament the need for MSIE and Netscape specific sites.

Although many developers may choose to forego the use of multiple sites in lieu of the latest in “one size fits all” responsive design techniques, Cavazza advises against this, calling it “much more complicated and deceptive” than what the uninitiated may believe, and instead calls on companies to develop their internal competencies, because mobile is here to stay.

“The hard truth is you do not need a mobile app or a mobile website or a hybrid app, you need all of them,” Cavazza concluded. “Each of these technologies allows you to deliver the appropriate solution for different contexts and user types.”

But what do you do when you’re not a Fortune 500 company or are a small time porn producer or performer on a limited budget — or are simply unable to get past the official app store distribution restrictions?

Among the options is to turn to automation and outside service providers for help.

According to ClubAppMaker.com, while tastes vary, quality cannot. The company makes a program for Mac or PC users that allow gentlemen’s clubs, adult entertainers and dancers to make their own uncensored apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

“The app you make represents your brand. If your app is slow, unsightly, or difficult for clients to receive and install, you’ve put your name on the line,” a Club App Maker spokesperson stated. “Having your own app builds trust and credibility. It’s like a private connection on your customer’s phones making them feel like they have the ‘inside track’ to their favorite star, club or dancer on their smartphone.”

Club App Maker is backed by entertainer and feature performer Maria Gara, who provides an insightful perspective on its target market.

“Porn stars, club owners and dancers told us they wanted their own app but feared the learning curve and expense usually involved,” the spokesperson explained. “They wanted an app to promote themselves without spending too much money or dealing with programmers or app store censors. And they wanted to be able to update their apps instantly without having to wait for months to just fix a typo or add a new sexy image.”

The result was the creation of the Club App Maker and its highly customizable apps, which are ready to launch in only a minute and modifiable indefinitely after installation.

“They look perfect on iPhone, Android, and even come with a bonus website for install-shy clients,” the spokesperson concluded. “Apps are shared directly by SMS text message and social media, thus eliminating the roadblock of app stores, passwords, censorship, and lack of discoverability. Apps finally get found, shared, installed, and can be marketed to by push message.”

Altogether, this firm makes a powerful case for app usefulness in its target markets, citing the example of its owner, who uses her app at adult entertainment conventions to provide fans with a little something special; such as a shot of her face, boobs, a logo or whatever she wants them to see daily. Fans are also able to share her app, bringing new fans to her website and live shows.

“You now have a one on one connection with your customers and fans and they can stay up to date on everything you do instantly,” Gara says of Club App Maker.

Regardless of how you go about it, your strength in the marketplace, the mobile audience presents an opportunity that adult entertainment merchants should not ignore — and is a playing field where “change” is the only certainty — whether you have an app, or not.